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8/12/2008
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8 Ways To Make Money Online

You won't get rich (probably), but you can pad your income by turning your knowledge, skills, and talents into blogs, online videos -- and cash money.

5. Sell Your Vacation Photos

If photography is your passion, you may be sitting on a pile of uncashed checks. When publishers and advertising agencies need background art for brochures, books, or billboards, they often purchase generic or "stock" photographs from a stock photo agency.

Traditionally, stock photography agencies have charged hundreds to thousands of dollars for such photographs, and only very experienced photographers have been able to sell their photos to these agencies. But the industry has changed recently. In the past decade, the Web has seen the birth of several "microstock" agencies, which are online retailers that sell royalty-free stock photographs for as little as one dollar.

If you have a digital camera and a good eye, that's where you come in. Many of the photographers who contribute pictures to microstock agencies are amateurs and hobbyists, meaning you don't have to be Annie Liebowitz to make a few bucks with your photographs.

As with most online sales, microstock photographers generally are paid on commission: 25 cents to a few dollars each time one of their photos is downloaded from the agency site. Most agencies highlight their top-selling photos on their sites, which should give you a good idea of what to submit. Black and white photographs of business people tend to sell well, as do crisp still shots that leave some white space for text, according to a microstock photographer from Slovenia who was recently in Boston, taking the opportunity to shoot the city's skyline during a family vacation.

Many agencies sell stock video and audio footage, too.

Here are a few reputable microstock agencies and their payment policies:

  • Istockphoto pays a base royalty rate of 20 percent for the sale of each downloaded file, and up to 40 percent for exclusive contributors.
  • Shutterstock pays 25 cents per download, increasing the rate to 30 cents once a photographer earns more than $500.
  • Bigstockphoto generally pays 50 cents to $3 per download, depending on the size of the file.

6. Become A Music Producer

In the days before the Web, hopeful musicians had two basic career choices: sign with a major record label, or go broke trying. These days, though, anyone with a microphone, a PC, and a modicum of musical talent has a shot at selling songs through a slew of online music stores and distributors that cater to independent artists.

"Everything is digital now," says David Otero, an independent Reggaeton musician from Miami. "Nobody's selling just CDs."

Among the most popular and user-friendly stores and distributors is CD Baby. When a musician sends five self-produced CDs and a $35 starter fee to the CD Baby, the company digitizes the CD, creates a Web page dedicated to that musician's music, encodes the music digitally, and distributes it to popular music download sites such as Apple iTunes and Rhapsody. Musicians set their own prices for songs and CDs. CD Baby keeps $4 of each CD sold and a mere 9 percent from the sale of each digital song download.

Indy artists also favor a service from Snocap Inc., which allows musicians to sell songs directly from their Myspace pages; Myspace.com is the most popular social networking site among musicians. Setting up a store is free for unsigned artists, who can post up to one thousand songs to sell. Snocap keeps 39 cents of every download; musicians generally charge 99 cents per song.

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